The hotly anticipated oral history tell-all about ESPN--"Those Guys Have All the Fun"--hits bookstores on Tuesday.
The 700-page book was co-authored by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller--the guys behind the similarly salacious book about "Saturday Night Live," 2002's "Live From New York."
The latest offering from Shales and Miller has already set the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" aflame. As news of its contents have gradually leaked to the press, ESPN executives have been scrambling to defuse claims of sex, drugs and general debauchery made by some current and former employees.
"I can tell you categorically, we do not have a frat-boy culture," John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president of content, told reporters at the network's upfront confab last week. "We do not condone that kind of activity."
Below are the seven accounts, culled from various advance excerpts, that have the suits in the network's Bristol, Conn., headquarters sweating the most.
Andy Brilliant, former ESPN general counsel:
The company would have Christmas parties up at some horrible place in Bristol. A couple of them were drunken orgies ... It became like a big frat party. There were a lot of drugs being done in the bathroom. There was quite a bit of screwing going on afterward, a lot of it extramarital. But everybody went back to business the next workday.
Steve Bornstein, former ESPN chairman:
I think part of the sexual harassment stuff was location. It's one hundred miles from real civilization, and you got the kind of testosterone, jock mentality, frat house approach that's pretty much a recipe for stupid decisions being made.
Sal Marchiano, former ESPN reporter:
There was a lusty sex life there. There was screwing in the hallways. Okay, maybe not in the hallways, but there were a couple of stairwell stories ... There were drugs in the building, that I knew. There was one guy who dealt pot.
I remember [an ESPN exec] coming in and saying, 'We gotta get rid of this apartment … because the mail boys got a couple of our secretaries hooking over there.' Hooking! That's what he said ... 'They're making money after work when no one's there. It's getting out of control.'
ESPN suspending Steve Phillips as a commentator because he's a married man having an affair with an employee is like going to Harlem and saying we're going to arrest all black men who cross the street.
Jack Edwards, former ESPN anchor:
The number one thing that surprised me about ESPN was how little team spirit there was for a place that said that its business was sports. If I said 'I think you're wrong' to someone who was higher in the organizational chart than I was, what I would get back was 'You're not a team player.' And on more than one occasion I responded, 'When's the last time you wore a jockstrap?' A team is where you have your teammate's back regardless of what happens; you defend them and you sort out any dirty laundry quietly behind closed doors. There was almost none of that at ESPN. There was no encouragement, because the atmosphere was one of stick the knife in his back, climb the corporate ladder. It was a very, very negative place to work. Don't believe the mascot promos. Life is not like that at SportsCenter.
Dick Ebersol, soon-to-be-ex-NBC Sports chief:
ESPN basically has to have one of their talent talk about Hitler or put a picture of their dick on a phone--which is what that [Sean] Salisbury guy did--before they'll do anything about any of these various crazies, because they don't have to. Nobody can touch them.
I felt bad for her. She looked fabulous but it was such a violation. I mean, I've had moments in my apartment in New York when the blinds were up for one brief second and you think, 'Ugh!' but that's nothing compared to what happened to her. Nothing. ... I think things might have been handled differently, but she seems to be moving on. Sometimes these things turn out better for people.